Insect Zoos

Leslie Saul-Gershenz

Center for Ecosystem Survival, San Francisco, California

Insect zoos, exhibits that display live insects and arthropods to the general public, have gained recognition for their educational value and broad appeal. They have demonstrated that insects are interesting to millions of people, not just a select few. Insects represent the majority of terrestrial species on earth and display a dazzling diversity of lifestyles, behaviors, and adaptations. The great naturalists Pliny, Fabre,

Wallace, Darwin, Belt, and Wheeler possessed a boundless desire to observe living insects in the natural world. The observation of living insects in the field and lab still excites the imagination of naturalists today, and the general public has been increasingly infected with this enthusiasm through exposure to the lives of insects through superb nature films and photography. Insect zoos provide opportunities for positive firsthand observations of live insects to millions of people. These exhibits are intended to inspire a curiosity to learn more, and to balance the myths and misrepresentations promoted by the cinema and other commercial media. Insectariums have proven to be enormously popular with the public wherever they appear, whether modest or grand, whether showcasing native or exotic species. Today there are over 100 insect zoo exhibits throughout the world.

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